November 18, 2020

The SEED Awards have highlighted public interest design projects that address critical community issues at a social, economic, and environmental scale since 2011. This year, in collaboration with NOMA and NAACP, projects were awarded that reflect justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion within the realms of architecture. Among the winners selected this year was The Weatherization Kit Project by Carnegie Mellon University Freedom by Design. The Weatherization Kit is a box containing items including window plastic, weather stripping, and door sweeps that residents in the community can use to reduce heat loss in their homes, supplemented by an instructional booklet. Distribution and training events sponsored by, and held at PROJECT RE_ (a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring community, rebuilding lives, and reuse of material) are offered annually.

This project has been the work of several FBD teams at CMU, and the AIAS is incredibly proud to see this amazing project by students be recognized. Read further for statements from the team, and check out their video below to learn more about the project.

Eddie Fischer-Current FBD Director

“During the first year of the Weatherization Kit project I was an FBD member, and regularly attended meetings contributing some work towards both the booklet and the boxes. In the next year of the project I was on the FBD Executive Board as the Project Manager. In that role I was responsible for reaching out to community organizations who connected with families to receive the kits on our behalf, locating weatherization items to put in the kits, and helping to plan the distribution event. This year I am serving as the FBD Director, and I am coordinating the Weatherization Kit project, communicating with the University and AIAS and FBD nationally about the project and funding, and working with the other FBD Board members to begin planning our spring semester. To me, the best part about Freedom by Design and the Weatherization Kit project is the opportunity to see that good design can in fact make a difference in people’s lives.”

Christina Brown-FBD lead photographer and PR Co-Chair 2019-2020

“From idea conception and ideation to the now annual kit building and distribution event, this project was very enjoyable for me. It was a small project with a large impact, and helped our chapter learn about the many roadblocks that can arise along the way. We had to learn about legal reviews, fundraising, stakeholder collaborations, language barriers, and many more, which has helped our fairly new chapter to mature very quickly. I hope that our continued efforts can demonstrate to local communities that we care, and that the chapter is dedicated to long-term engagement.”

Gabrielle Benson-Current FBD Development Manager

“Having joined FBD during the Weatherization Kit Project last year, I was able to connect with the Pittsburgh community as well as with other students at CMU. It means a lot to be able to learn about Pittsburgh beyond campus, and it has been great to get to know everyone in our chapter.”

Colin Walters-Current FBD PR Co-Chair

“My time with our Freedom by Design chapter has allowed me to broaden my connections with the School of Architecture and Pittsburgh as a whole. Working with all years of students as well as interacting with various faculty has been invaluable in my short time at the university. The Weatherization Kit project introduced me to communities and organizations within the Pittsburgh area. My experiences with these groups during our distribution events has redefined what architecture means to me. Rather than designing for a community, you should design with a community, allowing their input to guide the process.”

Hannah Haytko-DeSalvo-Current PR Co-Chair

“I joined Freedom by Design last year right at the beginning of school, not really knowing what they were doing; I was just happy to assemble Weatherization Kits. As the project went on, I got to learn about Pittsburgh and its communities. FBD is important to me because I get to spend time with people who care about improving and helping their community, and we have fun while doing it.”

Statement from the Team:

We were all obviously very excited when we found out that we won. Our team has worked hard on the Weatherization Kit project for years now, so it is an honor to get the recognition.